Character Cage Match: Bond vs. Bourne
Posted 11.12.12 by Ryan
British secret agent James Bond first sprung to fictional life in author Ian Fleming's 1953 novel, Casino Royale, which needed three printings to keep up with the demand. Fleming followed with a series of novels and short stories featuring Bond until his death in 1964, at which point the character was also a big screen success as well.
Conversely, Robert Ludlum wrote his first Jason Bourne novel with 1980's The Bourne Identity, writing two more before his death in 2001. Ludlum did not live long enough to see 2002's The Bourne Identity or its subsequent sequels, but, like Fleming, Ludlum's character lives on, with other authors taking over the characters for the novels and the film franchises continuing to find success.
Yet, with Bond making his 23rd big screen adventure in this weekend's Skyfall, we began to wonder: which spy rules the other? There's only one place for Bourne and Bond to face off against one another and that's in our Character Cage Match!
The Rules: While Bond has considerably more movies than Bourne, that could be a disadvantage depending on which era you prefer. For example Bourne never had to go into space in an obvious attempt to take advantage of the Star Wars phenomenon. However, Bourne was also first played by Richard Chamblerlain in a 1988 TV movie, and that's all fair game as well.
So while we're not excluding any of the Bonds or any of the Bournes, we are eliminating Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) from The Bourne Legacy. We're not saying anything disparaging about Legacy, but just saying that adding Cross to a comparison about Bourne is like taking 006 (Sean Bean in GoldenEye) or any other 00 agent in a comparison of Bond. So we'll just keep it to Bond and Bourne, in all of their eras.
Bourne's Strengths: Thanks to the behavior-modification program Operation Treadstone, David Webb was transformed into the lethal killing machine Jason Bourne. Able to speak a seemingly endless amount of languages, Bourne can take any household object (a magazine, for instance) and turn it into a weapon. His instincts are sharp, with Bourne having an uncanny ability to sense when there's trouble. Bourne also is a trained martial artist and is skilled with weapons, explosives and knows how to disappear. In comparison to Bond's history, Bourne is also the "younger" of the two, though whether that is a strength or a weakness is a matter of opinion.
Bourne's Weaknesses: Bourne has amnesia, a condition which improves over the course of the trilogy, but does mean that Bourne often wades into trouble without always knowing it. And even though he is a lethal killing machine, Bourne has scruples, and was unable to take out his target because he had his children nearby. While we consider that to be more of a strength than a weakness, it did leave Bourne shot and left for dead in the Mediterranean Sea.
Bond's Strengths: Let's just say that Mi6 doesn't give a "license to kill" to just anybody. Bond can golf, ski, identify a bottle of wine by taste, and play obscure card games as well as he can fire a gun, drive a car, and punch someone in the face. Recently, Bond has also added parkour to his list of skills. And when it comes to serving Queen and country, there's nothing that will stop Bond from completing his mission.
Bond's Weaknesses: While also a skill, Bond's way with women has remained smooth over several decades, but also puts him in danger most of the time as well. Also, for being a "secret" agent, Bond sure likes to tell everybody what his name is, apparently missing the week of training where they went over aliases and assumed names. Bond usually requires gadgets to get himself out of trouble, whereas Bourne does not. Lastly, Bond was also Roger Moore for well over a decade.